Our CRV was up for registration renewal so I had my first experience of doing it Panamanian style!
The first step is a vehicle inspection by an authorized mechanic that really isn’t an inspection at all. They simply take a few pictures of your vehicle after you show proof of insurance, your title, and proof that the registration is due for the current month (they’ll send you away if you haven’t reached the month that your registration actually expires). At Quick Fix in Boquete, they did not look in the car to verify the mileage or look under the hood! I paid $20 and got my official Recibo De Matricula De Circulacion, and off I went. It took less than 15 minutes without an appointment.
Next step is to make a copy of your paperwork for the officials, and then take it to the Boquete Municipal Building (the same place where we pay our $80 YEARLY water and garbage bill — yes, you read that right, $80 for the year!). Sign another piece of paper and get it stamped (Panamanians love to stamp things . . . actually, that’s pretty true throughout Latin America). Go to the caja window, which is right next to the registration window, pay $32.00 for another stamp, and you’ll receive your shiny new license plate, windshield sticker, and registration paper. Yes, it’s a brand new license plate every year! It seems wasteful, but we understand that the plates are made by disadvantaged young people to help them learn a skill and give them a possible career path. If it’s teaching kids something and keeping them off the street, we’re cool with that!
Easy peasy and all done in less than half an hour!